On March 17, 2020, our institution was designated as the nation’s first dedicated care center for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Our patient population would now be only individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 and required hospitalization, either from our emergency department, or from other hospitals within our network. My experience with COVID was, at that point, scarce and limited to discussions with my senior colleagues and the case reports from China and Italy.
I grew up in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, thousands of miles away in the Middle East. I went to high school with a dream that I would become a petroleum engineer. I never thought that I would be a physician; I was scared from seeing blood, and I was afraid to touch a patient. When I graduated from high school, I applied to the best scholarship program in the country, and I got accepted to study petroleum engineering abroad. At the same time, I applied to King Abdulaziz University College of Medicine in Saudi Arabia, because it is one of the best schools in the country. I applied, not because I was forced to do so by my family, but I did it to prove that I could be a doctor, although at that time I didn’t want to be one.
December 2019, the month a mysterious viral outbreak was first reported in Wuhan, China, will be forever remembered as an important moment in history. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed our lives, and strained the healthcare system and economy like never before. At the heart of the pandemic in New York City, we faced the worst. Originally from Mumbai, India and a Grant Medical College alumni, I moved to New York City for chief residency after completing my Internal Medicine Residency from JFK Medical Center, University of Miami. In this blog I describe my experience as an Internal Medicine Chief Resident working in New York City, sharing the difficulties encountered and the lessons learned.
By ECFMG Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program Team
ECFMG’s Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program (EVSP) has been the sole visa sponsor for J-1 exchange visitor physicians for decades. As an organization, we’ve always known that the physicians we sponsor are remarkable individuals. We’ve seen them exhibit great bravery, dedication, and talent. But this year, during the COVID-19 global pandemic, we’ve never been more proud of them or of the role that we play in supporting their journeys in medicine.